President Nicolas Maduro continued his takeover of Venezuela’s main opposition parties Tuesday by ordering the suspension of the board of Popular Will, led by his biggest rival, Juan Guaido.
Maduro used the Supreme Court to appoint Jose Gregorio Noriega, a lawmaker ensnared in a graft scandal, as the party’s new president. This is the third political party the autocratic regime has sought to push aside — the boards of Democratic Action and Justice First have already been replaced — ahead of congressional elections in December.
“Popular Will will not validate the electoral sham planned by the dictatorship to create more frustration and smear the vote,” said Leopoldo Lopez, Popular Will founder and one-time political prisioner who’s taken refuge in the Spanish ambassador’s residence in Caracas.
Noriega is the second vice president of the Maduro-backed National Assembly, headed by lawmaker Luis Parra. Noriega and Parra were sanctioned by the European Union earlier this week for undermining the powers of the National Assembly and the rule of law.
A request to void a fourth opposition party, A New Time, is still pending the court’s decision.
The high court ruling follows Maduro’s total restructuring of the country’s Electoral Council in June, bypassing the Guaido-led National Assembly to unilaterally appoint five new members loyal to him. The new National Electoral Council, known as CNE, said that congressional elections will be held Dec. 6. Guaido said they would not participate in what he called “false” elections due to a lack of guarantees.
— With assistance by Nicolle Yapur
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